Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun to talk to youngsters.

(Nice picture from CK Hon)


You answered a few of my questions a few days ago, and they really helped me, thanks! Yet, my curiosity has seemed to have only grown. I guess it's a good thing. Anyway, here's a few more questions:

1) What's the difference between Therevada and Mahayana Buddhism? All I know is that one is like Orthedox Buddhism, and the other was made after the councils. They were councils, right? Well, nevermind that, I can look that up. The council thing, not the other thing.

2) What form of Buddhism would you recomend? I know that I should really branch out into my own ideal, and decide for my own, but I have so many extra curricular activities and homework and general teen stuff. Dating. . . well, extra curricular activities and homework. Mainly, it's that there are so many forms of Buddhism that I can't find all the info., and I don't even know all of them! GRR! Oh, the woes of curiosity unfed! Anyway, I guess the real question I have is that, hmm, can you provide links or info. about the schools of Buddhism and other teachings, all that jazz?

3) Since I'm young, I am going through the, ahem, 'change' of the teenage years. That, and I also live a moderately materialistic social life. Everyone at school has the latest IPod and cell phone (luckily, I want niether. My brother with the wrecked car and 7000 songs, needs the cellphone and IPod. That's right, 7000.), and my house has a big screen, three computers, and we recently got a new car. I even just went to China a month ago! Now, being surrounded with all that leads me to want more. For example, I just got my brothers old computer. It can run any of the new day stuff. Now, I want more. More games, more upgrades, just more PC stuff. You see my plight? I already have a lot, and want more. I already know how to at least control myself from splurging on wants. Yet, the real question I guess I have is that how do you recomend I lessen my moderately lavish surroundings?

4) I am really in no position to think of this yet, but how do I deal with lust? Well, I guess I am in a position to think of it, being 15. anyway, how do I deal with it? It's every where! When I delete one E-mail, two come out! That, and that I have access to it on the internet. A high power access line to the internet. I'm sure I don't need to go to far into detail, but I have on more than one occassion, um, well. . . Anyway, my question is how do I teach myself to control my desire?

Thanks, You guys are the best thing to happen to Buddhism since Avolkitshvara. I think that's it. Well, you guys are good, in any case. If I got that wrong, please do tell.

Much Thanks, D W

My comment:

Hi D W,
Welcome back.
Apologies for the delayed reply due to website problem.

1)A brief historical background of Buddhism will explain this. During the Buddha's time, his teachings were all memorized by the learned monks and passed down as such. After a few hundred years, differences in interpretations began to appear. A lot of Brahmins from the Brahmin religion (modern day Hinduism) became Buddhists. During that time the emperor was a Buddhist. His name was King Asoka. Naturally, all would like to become Buddhists! Because of these differences, King Asoka called for a council of monks to confirm the authenticity of the Buddha's teachings. The council of learned monks recited and confirmed the full text of the teachings which had been handed down by verbal recitation. They referred to this confirmation as the text of the elders (senior monks). In the Pali language it is called Theravada, which is the tradition that I follow. The Brahmin group decided to have their own version and called themselves the Great Vehicle (Great Wheel), in Pali, Mahayana. They then belittled the Theravada by calling them Lesser Vehicle which in Pali is Hinayana.

The Mahayana spread towards the north-west to Afghanistan, the Silk Route to China, Korea, and Japan. While the Theravada spread to the south to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and then up north-east to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Being very practical teachings based on universal truths, Buddhism was able to be accepted by the different communities. They could practise Buddhism without having to change their cultures and customs. That is why we have Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism, and who knows Western Buddhism! The beauty of Buddhism is that although there are such varieties, the basic teachings of the Buddha are the same. The difference is actually in the rites and rituals, and some other minor subjects.

2) You have plenty of time to learn more about Buddhism. Please surf through the websites that I have recommended you in my first reply to you, and you will find all that you need to know. In the meantime enjoy your youth, but remember to harness your energies for positive and noble activities. Live a noble and harmless life by following the 5 precepts to the best of your ability. These 5 precepts are like a protective fence against evils and sorrows. If you choose to compromise on these 5 precepts, which are actually universal values, be prepared for all the problems and sorrows when they come haunting you. You know AIDS!

3) I would assume that you come from the land of plenty..USA..Plenty to eat, plenty to enjoy, plenty to everything...Yes, plenty to everything...plenty of troubles and problems too! This is because of the lack of true wisdom. Your life's experience is no difference from that of your parents, for that matter, your ancestors. The difference is in change of material things. Your great great grandparents would want the best horses. They would want to have more dresses and more new shoes. Your parents would have wanted the latest "convertables" and the latest colour tvs. We are all the same. It is natural but not all natural behaviour are beneficial. If we crave for more and more, we actually become crazy! If you are wise, which I say you are, then follow the Buddha's advice....reduce greed, reduce hatred, reduce our ignorance to the true nature of life.

4) I am as "bad" as you, but I have an "advantage" over you. I am 55 years old! Running out of steam. D W, it is natural that we are lustful. It is the very nature of our lives. That's why the Buddha referred humans as "Sensual" beings, subject to great temptations of the senses. We cannot control all these sensual desires. It will make us all zombies! What you need to be careful of is to restrain and not go to extreme. And remember the 3rd refrain from committing sexual misconduct. This is very important...Aids.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Easy way out (Part 2 of 2)

Hi there again;

first of all, thank you for your feedback. I do appreciate it.

Why do i still study? Because I am in the middle of it and couldnt leave immediately and I am thinking about not re-registering for the next semester.

My folks did support me but am I going to live my life according to their feelings or according to mine? Even though i would always love them and be thankful to them, isnt it fair for me to follow the lifestyle that i choose?

I have read many books about buddhism and I have done extensive research and meditation on it. However, I am sure there are so many things that I will learn about it. The learning process never ends.

How can I be talking the easy way out if I have been a survivor since i was 18 ( both working hard and studying intensively) and I am 27 now. So... i have been in difficult situations in the past. If I wanted to take the easy way out, i could have already done that before i started school and work not to mention i played sports all my life along with school and work ( very busy schedule)

My whole point is that materialistic world doesn't offer any meaning to me not because i am taking the easy way out but because i want to be peaceful without getting carried away with desires just to survive.

Do you see where i am coming from now? I just feel that I am wasting my time by trying to survive and doing the things that society accepts by doing so.

I can only hope that you can give me some information regarding my first question.


My comment:


Thanks for coming back. You have now given me a much clearer picture of your life. I suppose at your age you have the wisdom to decide what is good and beneficial for you. Yes, you have your life to live and you are free to choose. What I meant earlier was that perhaps your people might need your support, and they might be very disappointed should you terminate your education. Well, I don't really know.

Now to answer your earlier question: "Do you think there are temples in USA or in any country that would accept me and deal with my situation?"

You can find your leads through
The best bet is to find temples near you, and then you can go from there. Hope this helps. May you find the right path. Please come back if need be.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Easy way out (Part 1 of 2)

Beautiful picture from blogger CK Hon)


Hi there.

this is rather an odd question but I need to get out of my puzzle and need to start from somewhere. i will try to make this as clear as possible by listing my concerns so that you don't get lost while you are trying to completely understand what is it that I am asking or talking about.

I reside in the USA as an International Student and I just started my Masters Program after completing my BA.

In my home country, I have to serve in the army unless i have legitimate reasons such as being a student or being employed. By this way, they would simply postpone my service but not exempt me permanently.

I neither want to be employed nor want to continue my studies. However, I do want to devote myself to live like a true monk and stop the cycle of re-birth and suffering if I can.

If I go back home, I will have to serve in the army and I don't want that.

Do you think there are temples in USA or in any country that would accept me and deal with my situation?

Forgive me if you think my question is odd and not possible for you to answer.

All I can tell you is I have been studying buddhism for a while now and I am ready to leave the materialistic life for good, stop my desires and free my mind.

If you think you can help me or re-direct me, I would very grateful.


My comment:


Thank you for asking me, but I think you're not going to be too happy with my answer.

You seems to be taking the easy way out, by not wanting to work or to study. Then why are you still studying? What about your people back home who supported you through your studies? Do you think about their feelings? What's so difficult to serve in the army, just for a short period? How much do you know about Buddhism for you to decide to be a monk?

Now my friend, if you can answer all the above questions you will be a free man.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

A dangerous question!

(The perfect shot by CK Hon)

Does (do) God (Gods) exist? How about spirits?

My comment:
Hi D........,

Thank you for asking me. First we must define what we mean by "God". In terms of monistic theology "God" is supreme, the creator, the all powerful. Within this framework of belief of the creator god, it is then virtually impossible for a Buddhist to provide an "acceptable" answer to this question. This is because the questioner has already had a fixed preconceived belief system indoctrinated over a period of time, usually since childhood. It will be a spiritual shock to receive an answer from a Buddhist. The questioner will not accept an answer that is contrary to his belief system. The result will be catastrophic if he feels that some bigots are trying to insult or belittle his uncompromisable belief system. So, this is a very "dangerous" question!

However, since you ask a Buddhist in this Buddhist website, I will take a chance to put my neck out.
Buddhists do not subscribe to the existence of a creator god who is all powerful.

There is another definition of "gods". These are the higher beings existing in different (higher) planes of existence. The Buddha revealed that there are other planes of existence which we can't see with our naked eyes. We can only see in 3 dimensions. What about 4th, 5th, and other dimensions? These beings generally referred to as "devas" in Buddhist terminology. There are good and bad devas. These devas have higher powers than us and can sometimes help or harm us. You may equate this as good and bad "angels". Within this definition, "spirits" fall into this category.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Death Penalty

(Picture courtesy of Blogger CK Hon)

Having mixed emotions concerning the death penalty, what is the Buddhist thoughts on this?

My comment:

Thank you for asking me.

The first of the 5 precepts which Buddhists follow is that of refraining from killing. It is very clear that killing a being (any being for that matter, let alone a human being) is an unwholesome act. No being likes to be killed. Everyone is afraid of being killed. The natural law of cause and effect rules supreme; that an unwholesome act will definitely produce an unwholesome result, sooner or later. Buddhists believe in this universal law of cause and effect. Once we understand this eternal law, we are more "forgiving" knowing that no one can escape any evil deed.

Coming back to capital punishment, this is man-made law; to bring to focus that crime does not pay, here and now, if one is caught. The question is : do we want to play god? or do we want to be all-compassionate? In this worldly affair it is always a very difficult decision.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Walking on a tight rope.

Picture from CK Hon's blog (Hong Tu Di or Red Soil Earth
which is situated some 160 km from Kunming
in the province of Yunnan.

hello Justin, it has been a long time since I asked a quesion.
I hope you are well and healthy. As you remember, I work as a paramedic, helping people all day is what I love to do. However, there are days when there is so much to do, we are so busy, that I feel overwhelmed and even frustrated at always having to rush out and help someone when my stomach is so hungry, or I really need to go to the bathroom, or I am just too tired to move after a long day. I keep thinking about the buddhist saying ," always have a concern for other's needs first". But certainly a balance is needed, I cannot help others if I am tired and hungry and cannot do my job. Would you agree that there is a need to be selfish sometimes?

Take care my friend I hope you are well.

My comment:

Hi G.....,

I am very happy to hear from you again and to know that you are well. You are always in my mind and I will never forget you. I am well too.

AS you have very aptly put it in your "subject" heading as "Balance". Yes, you need to strike a balance in your life. You know the Chinese Tao symbol of "Ying and Yang"? It signifies a balance of the opposites; the harmony of apparent contradictions. You need to know darkness in order to understand brightness. You need silence in order to know sound. There is good and bad in this imperfect world. In order to survive we have to do a lot of unwholesome things. It is the survival of the fittest. So you need to be fit in order to survive, so as to help others in return. By taking good care of yourself is not being selfish but being realistic.

We are all walking on a tight rope. We need to adjust the pole to balance ourselves so that we do not fall. This is called skilful living. You have lived right. Please continue helping others. As I said before, you are a very lucky man; you get paid for helping others and saving lives.

Thank you for coming back. Smile from justinchoo :-)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Wesak

(My favourite painting from a Burmese artist)

To-day is the full moon day of the month of Vesakha which corresponds with the month of May.
It is Wesak Day, the day The Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and the day he passed away.

Buddhists observed this day with gratitude to the Buddha for what he has taught us:

To live in peace with oneself, with the society and with nature.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Life comes in a package.

(Beautiful picture by another Blogger)

I am very interested in becoming a buddhist. I would like to ask you a question on a subject that I have read extensively. I notice that a buddhist prevents badness by adopting the beliefs but how does one remove bad things that one has done in their life. Can one be forgiven.

My comment:
Hi J.......,
Thank you for asking me; and welcome to the path of truth and inner peace. The Buddha taught universal truths which transcend race, nationality, culture, time and space. What he taught was applicable to everyone irrespective of whether the person believed or not because his teachings were based on universal truths.

The most important message by the Buddha was that we are the result of what we were; and we will be the result of what we are. This is the central concept of "kamma", which is "volition actions"; actions which are done on purpose. "Actions" does not only mean bodily actions, but can also be in the form of speech and thoughts. Whatever actions or kamma that we have commited cannot be undone. That is why Buddhists are very careful with their actions. The universal law of kamma rules supreme. It is neither moral or immoral, but amoral. It is non discriminative in nature. It is only the actions that count. In simple language, good actions beget good results; and bad actions bring sorrow.

All of us have to pay for our bad actions; while at the same time we do enjoy some happiness because of our good actions. Life comes in a package.
The only way to "rid" our bad kamma is to start living right, from now on. The more good kamma we contribute, the more positive results we experience. It is just like diluting a salty water with more plain water until the water becomes pure. In the meantime we will continue to experience good and bad results. That is why we see suffering and at the same time happiness during the lifetime of a person. Those who enjoy their lives from day one until the end, are blessed with the results of past good kamma. While on the other extreme end, there are those who suffer from day one until they die.

We can forgive anyone; but that is not going to change his fate. If we want to be forgiven, we have to "forgive" ourselves by feeling remorse for the bad things that we have done, and to start living a harmless and wholesome life from now on. In this way, we will experience an inner peace, knowing that we are now following the right path.

Have peace; and smile from justinchoo :-)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Think with your head, not heart.

(Picture from another Blogger)

Question: (Unedited)
let me thank you beforehand you read my question.

Four years ago, I fell in love with a boy who is just one year older to me and I met him at my office where I got my first job. Even though I had a few closer male FRIENDS, he was my first love. He was a muslim. But I never worried about it as I always believed all "human" are of same spiecies. But it is a fatal mistake one may ever marry a person of another religion in my country. We had our affair so deeper and I almost treated him as my "own son"...thats how I can best explain it! we both resigned after few months and after another few months he wentback to his hometown and engaged in his own business. After his mother came to know our affair she had made him promise not to continue our affair and gradually he stopped all contacts with me. besides mother's request I must tell you that he always used to suspect me. unfortunately inspite of my innocence I got accused by many a people worsening the situation.

What so had been nearly 3 years since we were together last. But day by love for him kept growing....the more he went apart..the more stronger I loved him. I really do not bother if he still loves me or not...all i want is his happiness... I am the only girl in my family and my parents keep lots of hopes on 24 years old now and they highly worring over a marriage for me... my mind I've already accepted my lover as my husband, son and everything! helpless.....I simply cant marry anyone else..yet my lover will not marry me either. I do not do all these purposefully....simply it is impossible for me to think of another man! My question is....Am I commiting a sin by dissapointing my parents and is there no value for the bonds like mine? Please anwer me....I will be grateful to you if ytou reply me.

My comment:
Hi A...,

Thank you for asking me. It would be easier for me to comment if you reveal your locality and race/nationality. You see, your relationship would have different consequences depending on which race and region you are in.

This is a Buddhist site, not a counselling one; but I do appreciate your trust and confidence in this site. I shall try my best as a Buddhist, to share my thoughts with you. First let me share my personal experience with you. I have a daughter the same age as you. As parents, both my wife and I have high hopes for her. But things did not work out to be so sweet and pleasent. We have our problems and we worry sick day and night, and "pray" for the good "angels" (devas) to protect her and her baby, and hope that she will be a responsible mother.

Same with your parents. I am sure your parents will want what is good for you, and it is up to you to make good things happen. You have to be strong and wise to decide what is right and what is wrong, and to pursue the right course of action and leave the wrong ones behind, no matter how difficult it may be.

You have the wisdom to find this site and the humility to seek answers. Now is the time for you to use your "head" and not your "heart" to make the right choice. Do not play with fire! If you are not satisfied with my answer please come back.

Time will heal the wounds. Take the right step and have courage. Think of your parents too.
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